HC Deb 13 April 1937 vol 322 cc783-4
51. Mr. Boothby

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is satisfied with the working of the tripartite currency agreement between the United States, France and this country; and whether this agreement precludes any alteration of the gold value of its currency by the Government of any of these countries without prior consultation with the other parties to it.

Mr. Chamberlain

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. With regard to the second part, the purpose of the agreement is to maintain the greatest possible equilibrium in the system of international exchanges, and to avoid to the utmost extent any disturbance of that system by monetary action on the part of any of the Governments concerned. There is no express reference to the gold value of the several currencies.

Mr. Boothby

Does the right hon. Gentleman contemplate entering into negotiations with the United States and France for the conclusion of an economic agreement covering a rather wider field and of a more permanent nature?

Mr. Chamberlain

I am not contemplating that at the present time.

Mr. Thorne

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us who has the power to raise the selling price of gold every now and again?

Mr. Chamberlain

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put that question down.

Sir Archibald Sinclair

Seeing that the Government said, when the currency agreement was entered into, that they did then contemplate an economic agreement of a wider character betweeen America, France and Britain, will he say when the Government ceased to contemplate such an agreement?

Mr. Chamberlain

What I said was not at all inconsistent with that. We did say, at the time the agreement was made, that we hoped it might be followed by further measures with a view to lowering the restrictions in the way of international trade. The question I was asked to answer just now was whether I contemplated entering upon negotiations for that purpose to-day, and I replied in the negative.

Sir A. Sinclair

How can the right hon. Gentleman possibly expect that his hopes will be fulfilled if he is not prepared to do anything?

Mr. Chamberlain

I did not say that. I said that I was not contemplating it at the present moment. We shall have to consider it when circumstances are favourable.